EU proposes visa-free travel for Turkey in migrant crisis concession

By Andrew V. Pestano  |  Updated May 4, 2016 at 1:03 PM
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BRUSSELS, May 4 (UPI) -- The European Union on Wednesday proposed visa-free travel for Turkish citizens within Europe's Schengen Area as a concession related to the migrant crisis.

The visa liberalization offer was proposed in return for Turkey taking back migrants who crossed the Aegean Sea into Greece. The visa deal will need approval from the European Parliament and from EU member states.

If approved, Turks will be able to enter countries in the Schengen Area, including Greece, Hungary, Slovakia, France and Germany, without the requirement of a three-month visa for tourism and business trips. Turkish citizens will not be allowed, however, to get jobs in Schengen Area countries under the proposal.

Countries not in the Schengen Area include the United Kingdom, Cyprus and Ireland.

Turkey would need to meet several requirements before the EU can approve visa liberalization, including freedom of speech, the right to fair trials and revisions of terrorism legislation to protect minorities.

Turkey previously threatened to stop taking back migrants who arrived to Greece if the EU failed to guarantee visa liberalization.

Migrants arriving in Europe from North Africa and Turkey have strained EU resources. In April, more than 12,000 migrants crossed the Mediterranean -- a 59 percent decrease from last year. Turkey is hosting about 2.75 million Syrian refugees.

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